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July 31, 2007

Pointy-Heads Who Never Kissed A Girl Solve Riddle of Love: "For years, scientists have known that attraction is more likely to happen when people are aroused"

Really?

That quote is completely taken out of context -- they're referring to the old saw about people being more likely to hook up after being excited by fear or the like. Horror movies, roller coasters, lurking menacingly outside windows wearing nothing but clown makeup and a butcher's apron. Classic courtship ploys like that.

But it's characteristic of the piece as a whole, which tells us that science has concluded that love is a mystery, makes people do silly things, creates addiction-like symptoms, and may not be based entirely upon reason.

First comes initial attraction, the spark. If someone's going to pick one person out of the billions of opposite-sex humans out there, it's this step that starts things rolling.

Next comes the wild, dizzying infatuation of romance -- a unique magic between two people who can't stop thinking about each other. The brain uses its chemical arsenal to focus our attention on one person, forsaking all others.

"Everyone knows what that feels like. This is one of the great mysteries. It's the love potion No. 9, the click factor, interpersonal chemistry," says Gian Gonzaga, senior research scientist at eHarmony Labs.

Wow, thanks, Professor Science! Tell me more about this "spark" phenomenon. Is it electrostatic in nature? Piezoelectric? Something else? Spill, man! I'm on the edge of my seat here.

The forces of attraction are in many ways mysterious, but scientists know certain things. Studies have shown that women prefer men with symmetrical faces and that men like a certain waist-to-hip ratio in their mates. One study even found that women, when they sniffed men's T-shirts, were attracted to certain kinds of body odors.

A study even found that. Why, the next thing they'll be telling me is that a heartbroken man might cradle a pillow sniffing the perfume and body odor of his departed lover.

People in the early throes of passionate love, she says, can think of little else. They describe sleeplessness, loss of appetite, feelings of euphoria, and they're willing to take exceptional risks for the loved one.

Brain areas governing reward, craving, obsession, recklessness and habit all play their part in the trickery.

The deuce you say.

Clearly, in the matters of love, the stars were aligned for the [a couple discussed in the story]. When they met, they were ready for each other. But they were also attracted to each other. The chemistry was there. Most relationship researchers think it has to be.

Chemistry? First I've heard of this.

It also turns out that science shows that while love can strike at any age, older people, if you can believe such a thing, tend to be wiser and more in-control due to their experience in such matters.

The free fall of love's first rush can happen at any age, whether people are 20 or 70, says Elaine Hatfield, psychology professor at the University of Hawaii and relationship researcher.

What differs is that the older people get, the more memories they harbor of joy and trust, rejection and disappointment. And as people learn from experience, the front brain, with its logic and reason, probably gets a greater say.

"When you are young, passion and hope are so strong that's it's almost impossible to stop loving someone," Hatfield says. "After you've been kicked around by life, however, you start to have a dual response to handsome con men: 'Wow!' and 'Arrrrrrgh!'

"It takes not will power but painful experience to make us wise."

Dumb, but smart. Because the reporter writing this knew she wasn't telling anyone anything they didn't already know but that her editors would snap it up and people would link it and read it.

Because science has also demonstrated that people have some sort of strange interest in the subjects of love, attraction, and sex.

Thought that is yet only a tentative theory. Further research is required to conclusively establish this proposition.

The LA Times know this exact same story runs every single month in Elle, Cosmopolitan, Vogue, etc., right?


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posted by Ace at 03:19 PM

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